Euro inquiry splits all-party committee

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An inquiry by a committee of MPs into the single currency ended in rancour yesterday with the normally impartial body split down party lines.

An inquiry by a committee of MPs into the single currency ended in rancour yesterday with the normally impartial body split down party lines.

The Treasury Select Committee said the UK had met all the necessary conditions for joining the euro apart from a stable exchange rate.

The report was approved by six Labour MPs but not by the four Conservative MPs on the committee, who produced two alternative minority reports.

Giles Radice, the Labour MP and committee chairman, said the report offered a "dispassionate" assessment of the performance of the single currency in the 18 months since it was launched. The report said: "There is broad agreement that the UK meets all the Maastricht criteria bar that of exchange rate stability."

But Sir Teddy Taylor, a senior Tory backbencher who wrote one of the minority views, said the report did not give the "appropriate" message to Parliament. "My limited opinion poll [during a visit to the Continent] amongst the staff of the hotels, the drivers of our large cars and the ladies who gave us coffee convinced me that, as in Britain, there is a wide gulf between the politicians and the people," he said.

The alternative minority report, signed by Tory MPs David Ruffley, Sir Michael Spicer and Michael Fallon, said there was "widespread suspicion" of the five economic tests for joining the euro set by Gordon Brown in 1997. "It appears they were designed by the Chancellor to arrogate to himself the fullest possible discretion to decide at some unspecified date in the future whether the UK should join," it said.

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